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Slickrock Hiking in Zion   2 comments

Getting out on the steeply sloped slickrock in Zion National Park requires sticky soles and little fear of heights.

Just one more post from Zion National Park in Utah, so sad to be leaving!  I was ready to hike Angel’s Landing yesterday, but changed my mind.  Angel’s is a popular hike, for a reason of course.  Instead I stayed on the east side of the park and hiked up a big canyon just above the tunnels.  It was an amazing hike.

Autumn holds on in one of Zion National Park’s many canyons.

I didn’t cover that many miles, going up the trail-less canyon until it got too gnarly to continue (at least without rope and gear).  The light was nice because of some clouds, so I stayed until it got dark.  I hiked out first by moonlight, then by headlamp.  I climbed up on the canyon wall for sunset, and boy was it fun.  The slope of the bare sandstone along the canyon wall allowed me to “friction hike”.

In the canyons of Zion National Park in Utah, yucca are a common sight.

For those uninitiated in such hiking, this is when you walk on crazily tilted sandstone “slickrock” without slipping.  It helps to have good grippy soles on your shoes.  I recently bought a new pair of running shoes, and they worked like a charm.  The only problem with this incredibly freeing form of desert locomotion is that it tends to get you in trouble.  All of a sudden you realize the slope has gotten just a bit too steep, and you have to carefully backtrack.  But it certainly allows you to get to places you would never get to if the canyon were cut into some other type of rock.  Sandstone (and especially Navajo Sandstone) is the best for slickrock friction hiking.  I’m also glad my tripod has sticky rubber feet.

One of Zion’s so-called temples looms above a slickrock canyon on the park’s east side.

Shooting until blue hour and then having to descend a steep slickrock slope as it got dark was definitely exciting.  The crescent moon helped a little bit, and I got off the steep stuff before it got so dark I had to use my headlamp.  I was feeling pretty darn great when I finally reached my van (and a snoozing dog).  It was a shortlived feeling though, when I realized I had left my headlights on.  The road passes through two tunnels here, and I had passed through one – with headlights on – just before parking at the mouth of the canyon.  It was a little difficult getting people to stop on the road, in the middle of nowhere, in the dark.

Hiking canyons in Zion National Park often involves narrow sections called slots.


In situations like this, you get to see just how many people in this world take the news of bad things happening a little too literally.  It’s easy to think the whole world is full of creeps and criminals if you consume too much news.  But I was soon able to flag down a nice guy who gave me a jump.  All’s well that ends well!

In order to access the spectacular east side of Zion National Park in Utah, driving through two tunnels is required.


The late-afternoon sun prepares to set over the upper elevations of Zion National Park in Utah.


The high east side of Zion National Park in Utah shows its moody side.




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